This will be the second time this award has been presented, with the Family Resource Agency’s James Anderson receiving the award at last year’s event.
Presentation of the award will be bittersweet, as Tucker passed away in January after a prolonged illness. He was able to attend the event last year to present the initial award, and was extremely honored to have the award named after him.
“I have enjoyed my time volunteering with United Way, and over the past few years, with Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland,” Tucker said the night of the presentation.
“I love Cleveland and Bradley County, and along with my time with the Boys and Girls Clubs, hope that I have made a difference in others’ lives.”
There is no doubt that Tucker did just that; his mentoring with children who attended the Boys Club of Cleveland when he served as executive director touched so many young lives. He was able to see the club become the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland, and eventually grow into seven different BGCC units in Cleveland, Bradley and Polk counties.
He definitely made an impression on Anderson, who was extremely touched to be the first recipient of the award named after his mentor.
“Receiving the first ever Jim Tucker service award last year certainly meant a great deal to me,” Anderson said. “It became even more special, though, in light of the recent passing of ‘Colonel Tucker,’ as I knew him. I was especially pleased and certainly felt it an honor that Jim was with us for last year’s annual meeting and was able to participate in the award presentation.”
Anderson said he benefited from Tucker’s leadership and service capacities back when Tucker headed the Boys Club, and Anderson worked at the club while attending what was then called Lee College.
“I could tell, even then, that he was a great public servant and leader,” he added. “Then later, as I became a nonprofit executive myself and a peer of his, I always looked forward to seeing him and hearing about what new public service project he was involved in.”
One of those projects was working with the United Way of Bradley County. The Boys and Girls Clubs have been a United Way partner for many years, and Tucker held a special affection for the organization that helped the club progress during his directorship and into today.
“That is one of the things that he always stressed to me, was that the United Way is a great partner to the Boys and Girls Clubs, and we both work together to improve the lives of children in our community,” remembered Bobby Greene, a long-time club supporter, board member, and friend of Tucker’s.
Greene definitely took Tucker’s passing hard, but couldn’t help but smile when he thought back to all the young people whose lives were bettered by knowing this special man.
“To so many of the past members, he was like a father to them,” Greene said the day after learning of Tucker’s death.
“Jim was a personal friend to many of us and was a man of incredible character with a heart for those less fortunate,” noted Matt Carlson, Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland executive director.
Tucker spent many years following his tenure with the Boys and Girls Clubs volunteering with the local organization.
That time was also spent on the United Way Board of Directors. He also served on fund distribution panels and as a campaign solicitor. He received a special award from United Way of Bradley County in 1996 for his work with the organization, and then last year had the award created in his name.
“I have heard him called “Colonel Tucker,” and I have heard him called “Mr. T”; I knew him as Jim and as a great man who made such an impact in our community through his work with the Boys and Girls Clubs, and his volunteerism with both United Way and Habitat for Humanity,” said Matt Ryerson, United Way of Bradley County president and chief executive officer.
“He always had a smile on his face and a friendly word for everyone,” Ryerson added. “I cannot say that he will be missed, because he is already missed by so many of us now. We are so pleased that we were able to name this prestigious award in his honor, and it was extra special that he was able to present the first Jim Tucker award to the recipient himself.”
Tickets for the event are still on sale, but only a limited number of seats remain available. Reservations are necessary, and if you plan on attending the United Way of Bradley County’s Annual Dinner, you need to make those reservations by Feb. 26, but sooner if possible. Already, nearly 300 people have made reservations to attend the event.
You can make a reservation to the event by calling the
United Way office at 479-2020, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or online at www.unitedwaybc.com